Immigrants make up nearly 5% of Montgomery County’s population, work in key industries and contributed nearly $1.9 billion to the local GDP.

That’s according to a recent report that sheds light on the demographics and economic contributions of the foreign-born population in Montgomery County and Dayton in 2019.

The report demonstrates that immigrants are an asset to the community, said Severa Mwiza, a Rwandan immigrant who co-owns La Viva Rwanda, a fair trade store in Dayton, with Gabriela Pickett, a Mexican immigrant.

“It shows our competence,” Mwiza said. “We are not here to take advantage of what the country has. We are here to contribute to the development of the growing community. And for example, for us who came here in quest of peace, we are ready to help the people who opened their arms to us.”

The report found that the county’s foreign-born residents come from every continent and many are highly educated. Immigrants make up 6% of the county’s working age population, so they are helping the county meet its work force demands as the U.S. population ages.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Immigrants contributed $1.9 billion to Montgomery County’s gross domestic product in 2019, or 6.2% of the total.
  • Over 7% of county business owners were immigrants in 2019. Those 1,100 immigrant entrepreneurs generated $38.9 million in business income.
  • Immigrants in Montgomery County contribute millions to federal, state and local taxes as well as Social Security and Medicare, services some of them cannot access.
  • Without the growth in the immigrant community, the decline of Montgomery County’s and Dayton’s populations would have been greater between 2014 and 2019.

The report was commissioned by the city of Dayton Human Relations Council, and prepared in collaboration with the council by the New American Economy, now part of the American Immigration Council. Funding for the research came from New American Economy.

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